• Sep 25, 2007

We certainly won't like it, but the undeniable truth is that our government will have to one day do something to generate more tax dollars from gasoline. The mere thought sounds crazy, with $3 per gallon gasoline lording over us like the British government vs. the colonists circa 1775. The fact is that the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon hasn't gone up since 1993, and as a result, inflation is eating away at the tax revenue our government "needs." Cars are also gaining in fuel efficiency, and gas electric hybrids and more ethanol-powered cars are on the horizon. The bottom line: drivers are paying less and less per year in taxes for the right to drive a car.

Enter researchers from the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, who have developed a system for charging you by the distance traveled, instead of by the gallon of fossil fuel. 2,700 drivers from Maryland, Texas, Iowa, North Carolina, Idaho, and California are testing a device that records the miles driven and gives drivers a receipt for the amount of taxes that would be levied if the experiment was the real deal. The study is being done to gauge public opinion of such a radical shift in policy, while also gathering information from a very diverse group of areas.

As a blogger that loves to drive, this idea stinks to high tax Hell. Politicians are too scared to make the unpopular decision to tax the already high gas prices, so they're spending big research dollars to find an alternative way to stick us with a bill. It's not like people that drive less would get a break. Those people already drive very little, and as a result they buy less gas, so they pay less taxes.

[Source: USA Today via The Truth about Cars]



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  • 44 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      taxes are a necessary evil in this world, I pay them to help this country function, but I still don't like it. I'm interested to see the cost per mile of the tax idea vs. the old tax, would there still be a gas tax if this was implemented? etc...

      It's not a bad idea for the populous, just for people who like to drive a lot, which would be most of us on this site
      • 7 Years Ago
      While I'll be first in line to cut back gov't spending, taxes are necessary. I would prefer to raise taxes on something like gasoline that's a) within my power to control, and b) an incentive to be more environmentally responsible. The alternative is almost always raising income taxes, or property taxes.
      By taxing gasoline, people are encouraged to drive less, buy more fuel-efficient cars/trucks, carpool, take public transportation, etc. But the choice is still yours. If you want to drive an Escalade or Hummer to work everyday, you are free to do so. It'll just cost ya more money.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Amazing. Spend more to develop a different tax because no one member of government wants to be associated with raising the gas tax. I amazed that it takes more intestinal fortitude to do that than it did to invade a sovereign nation under false pretenses, or suspend habeus corpus.

      Either American politicians are completely gutless, or American voters have extremely screwed up priorities.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I honestly think that nobody in the Government, Republican or Democrat, has taken a basic intro to finance or economics class.

      I say we make the whole Congress go take those classes, maybe some basic fiscal common sense would help.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Politicians are too scared to make the unpopular decision to tax the already high gas prices"...

      What a Cracked up comment this is... Is anyone aware that we are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax income the G'Vment collects to the OIL companies in the form of subsidies to artifically lower the price @ the pump? Already High prices? Look at what developed countries w/o this subsidy pay at the pump, over $7 per gallon today in Europe I think. (may not be dead on but you get the point)

      If they want revenue we should stop giving millions to an industry that is already making record profits, that way the price would go up, the government would save money in stead of give it away, and we might actually make a dent in carbon emmisions to help save the planet at the same time. Carpool, use public transit, break out the bikes and wlak more america, you need the exercise.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Gas isn't $7 a gallon in Europe because they don't subsidize it, it's $7 because you are paying $2 in public transportation taxes and $3 more in social welfare taxes.

        People who claim gas is subsidized here mean it in the sense that oil companies could be taxed even more highly than they already are. That's what lobbyists can do for you, and yes it's corrupt, but interpreting that as we're paying for your cheap gas is a misinterpretation.

      • 7 Years Ago
      ...or just raise gas taxes. I'd rather pay more at the pump (and gain the benefits of a more efficient vehicle) than have a little box printing receipts sitting on my dashboard. They'd probably make you buy the paper for the receipts as well. Small, efficient cars do not have as high an infrastructure cost as larger, heavier and more thirsty vehicles, why tax them the same?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Precisely because smaller cars don't use as much gas.

        Therefore, they don't pay the same amount of tax as those that consume more while traveling the same distance. I'm sure I missed the quip about fairness somewhere from these government twats; the only "creativity" exhibited by these creeps is the creation of new taxes and cute (read: often irritating & typically draconian) ways to collect these routine rapes on our livelihood.

        Ya know.. When I have a shortfall in my budget, I cut spending and live within my means. Gee, if only I could just point a gun at my boss and "tax" him extra because it's only "fair".

        To add insult to injury, we're told it's for our own good when we don't even get a say in how this money is spent or even have easy access to information that would tell us where the money went in the first place.

        At least a thief is more honest than a politician: when he steals your money, he doesn't demand you thank him.
      • 7 Years Ago
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      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree that something has got to change, and the way that state/federal sales tax is calculated, collected and dispersed must change also.

      It would be far easier to scrap the current system and implement a tax based on a per centage rather than a fixed rate. Although many will disagree with me on the amount that percentage should be; the future pretty much demands it.

      I advocate a 100% excise tax at the pump.
      1. This will curb unneccesary wastefulness of a limited resource.
      2. Consumers would buy more effecient vehicles.
      3. The funds collected should be directed to road construction, repair and maintenance. Our infrastructure is sadly in need of a major overhaul. And user pay is the best way to allocate the funds to alleviate the burgeoning problems that are headed our way.
      • 7 Years Ago
      God forbid the federal government address what they spend this money on. I'm being taxed a s**tload on my new car via personal property tax in the state of Virginia. As it is, this tax is ridiculous since they only provide (marginal) relief up to a $20,000 window. The average price of a new car today hovers around $28,000 according to NADA. So how come VA hasn't adjusted for inflation there??????


      I'm hearing deafening silence on the other end despite my numerous letters to the county board, my representatives and the VA state assembly. But then again, it's all about life, liberty and the race to the bottom these days, isn't it? We all have our own opinions on the war, naturally, but there's a hell of a lot of money being spent there that could go towards fixing, among other things, the infrastructure we drive on day in and day out. Just a thought...

        • 7 Years Ago
        Which is why you see so many out-of-state plates in VA with parking passes to Virginian apartment complexes and condos. When I received my car tax bill last month, I went out to affix the new sticker right next to the yellow inspection certification on the windshield. Off-topic: renewing the safety inspection is fun too, especially when *only* the state's paid monkey is allowed to remove the old sticker and apply the new one - you're SOL every time they scratch up your dash with that huge ass knife.

        Anyway, walking in the parking lot, I started paying attention to the other cars there just to see how many other early birds paid the tax like I did. I didn't find too many. I found something else that had previously been spared my scrutiny: out-of-state tags, and I'm not talking about a couple of cars from Maryland. One comes from as far as Wisconsin.

        Turns out that in the county where I live (specifically the municipality within the county) a car must be taxed if it's "garaged" in the "jurisdiction of collection" for 30 days or more. However, if it's registered (or even co-registered) to a valid out-of-state address of yours (say you're military and your spouse lives elsewhere while you're stationed here) then it's up to the state to prove it was "garaged" for more than 30 days before they can levy and collect the personal property tax.

        The big kicker here is that the cost of making such a case is notably more expensive and time-consuming than simply collecting the tax, and since the county doesn't have the same resources available to them as would be case on the state level, the county keeps letting it go. Effectively the county has to sue you in a court of law, and while you would absorb all that cost in the event the county could make a winning case, the time, expense, and manpower required to make this a standard practice across the board isn't worth the return to a government entity that's already back-logged and inefficient to begin with, especially when the bad PR from suing poor people is taken into consideration. Of course, this varies by county through the state, since it's the counties that collect the tax, not the Commonwealth of Virginia.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why is it an undeniable truth that the government is going to have to raise gas taxes? That page seems to be missing from my book of undeniable truths.

      Did you hear the one about the IRS collecting the most tax revenue this year in the country's history? Yeah, let's raise taxes and completely screw the economy. Brilliant.

      The problem isn't that taxes are too low, it's that one political party is so enamored with the me-first entitlement crowd and that the other one is too afraid to stand up to it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Clarkson made a damn good point when they first mentioned this on Top Gear years ago too....

      all the 'extra' money raised would just be lost on the infrastructure and new personnel needed to handle all accounting and collections and such.

      Rediculous.

      I am happy to see that it's not a GPS system they're testing however, so at least it's not a big brother always knowing where you are/how fast you're going/etc.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What's wrong with just increasing the gas tax to match inflation? Or to match construction escalation, that would be more in keeping with its purpose.
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